Peter Wright won the opening night of the 2022 Cazoo Premier League following a 6-1 victory over Jonny Clayton in Thursday night’s final in Cardiff.
The world champion produced superb darts in the final, averaging over a ton and he completed the job with a 121 checkout.
Wright is the first man to take home the £10,000 bonus for an event victory and the evening marked the first night of the competition’s radical new format.
During the 2022 season, each stop on the Premier League calendar will comprise of quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final.
Rankings points are awarded each night to form the league table from which the top four players will progress into the Play-Offs in May. The competition now moves to Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena next Thursday.
2022 Cazoo Premier League – Night 1 Results
|Quarter-finals||Jonny Clayton||6-2||Joe Cullen|
|Gerwyn Price||3-6||James Wade|
|Peter Wright||6-3||Michael Smith|
|Michael van Gerwen||4-6||Gary Anderson|
|Semi-finals||Jonny Clayton||6-4||James Wade|
|Peter Wright||6-5||Gary Anderson|
|Final||Jonny Clayton||1-6||Peter Wright|
Wright started the final with a 15-dart break and then consolidated it with a productive hold to set the tone.
Despite a packed house inside Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena willing Clayton on by singing the Welsh national anthem, the world champion marched on. In the fourth leg, he came close to hitting a nine-darter, missing T19 after seven perfect darts.
While Wright efficiently went about his business, Clayton wasn’t able to find the form he had produced earlier in the night to beat James Wade and Joe Cullen en route to the final.
Wright completed the rather straight-forward final with a 113.02 average and being six-from-nine on the doubles. Overall, he was pleased with his work.
“In the previous format you’d play one game, and you’d either win or lose. That was it, so you couldn’t get used to the stage,” Wright said.
“This is a bonus because you get used to the stage and the amazing atmosphere. It makes a difference.
“I’ve got a new feeling – the Phil Taylor feeling. I used to think how is that man concentrating on every single match and I found it at the beginning of this year after I won the Worlds.
“Obviously a slip up at the Masters but I believe that I can go on. I want to play every single tournament and win every tournament.”
In the first semi-final, Clayton came from 4-2 down to take his place in the evening’s decider with a 6-4 result against Wade.
The Welshman had darts for a comfortable 2-0 lead and missing them disrupted his flow. While he tried to re-find it, Wade created his own two-leg cushion.
Clayton stayed calm and wrestled the semi-final back though. In the ninth leg, Wade missed a 64-finish to move 5-4 up and ‘The Ferret’ took out 52 under pressure.
With the home crowd behind him, Clayton again punished a missed finish from Wade and booked his final place with his second match dart on D12.
The other semi-final was an all-Scottish affair between Wright and Anderson, and it went the distance before Wright triumphed 6-5.
The world champion took early charge of the encounter and punished Anderson’s poor finishing.
Despite relinquishing a three-leg cushion and missing a match-dart at 5-4, Wright delivered when it mattered in the deciding leg. Two tons and a 140 took control of it, before he sealed the deal with a 76 checkout.
At the start of the night, debutant Joe Cullen was the first to enter the rocking arena and received a warm reception, however the crowd raised the roof for his opponent, defending champion Clayton.
‘The Ferret’ beamed throughout his walk-on and started his evening with two 180s in the opening leg.
Cullen instantly tried to prove he was up to the challenge by almost taking out the Big Fish. However, his miss on the bull allowed Clayton to hold.
From there, the Welshman charged 3-0 up and then 5-2 in front. Despite missing his first two match darts, Clayton nailed D10 shortly after to comfortably secure his semi-final place.
Price arrived next and tried to emulate his compatriot’s route through to the semi-finals, but the world No 1 fell to a 6-3 defeat at the hands of Wade.
The Welshman missed out on the 2021 Premier League campaign due to a positive Covid-19 test and had said that he was “eager to make up for lost time”, but never settled.
Wade ignored the noise of the crowd and quietly went about his business. He averaged 88.78 and took out 124 and 104 finishes in the final legs to dismiss Price and progress.
The third quarter-final saw a rematch of the World Championship final, exactly a month to the day since Wright and Smith enjoyed that Alexandra Palace epic.
Smith broke the Wright throw on the opening leg, before the world champion put together a four-leg run, looking comfortable with another set of new darts.
At 5-2 down, Smith took out 150 and shrugged his shoulders in frustration. The finish was superb, but it simply delayed the inevitable.
Van Gerwen commenced his evening and bid to win a sixth Premier League title against Anderson and the two produced a box-office quarter-final encounter.
A trio of breaks arrived early in the contest and resulted in a 3-2 lead for Anderson, who is out to reach the Play-Offs for a seventh time in nine years
‘The Flying Scotsman’ was then pressured by Van Gerwen having chances to finish the sixth leg off from 167 and 86, but held firm to double his cushion.
Van Gerwen responded instantly with a 135 finish on a 12-dart hold and that propelled him to surge on and level the match.
He was broken again though and Anderson kept his cool to finish things off and upset the Dutchman.
Check out daily Darts news on skysports.com/darts, our app for mobile devices and our Twitter account @skysportsdarts. We’re back for more Premier League action from the M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool next Thursday from 7pm on Sky Sports Arena.